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EMAC 2020 Annual Conference

Mirror, mirror on the wall: Which type of content has the most engagement of all?

Published: May 27, 2020


Jana Gross, ETH Zurich; Florian von Wangenheim, ETH Zürich


social media influencers; Instagram data; sponsored posts


Influencer marketing’s success has prompted many companies to cooperate with social media influencers for sponsored posts. This paper disproves the false commonly held belief that sponsored posts receive less engagement than non-sponsored ones. We answer the following questions: How do consumers engage with sponsored compared to non-sponsored posts, and why? Does a higher number of an SMI’s followers affect consumer engagement with sponsored posts? If so, how should sponsored posts be crafted for microinfluencers and macroinfluencers? We show that consumers engage more with sponsored than non-sponsored posts. Yet, a higher number of followers negatively affects consumers’ engagement with sponsored posts. Consumers are less involved with sponsored posts by macroinfluencers. In line, a higher number of followers positively affects consumer engagement with promotional sponsored posts. Empirical evidence is based on 64,438 posts on Instagram and is supplemented with an online experiment.


The authors thank everyone who contributed to this research.